Am I a Southern Baptist, Yet?

Christian faith is practiced as a call not simply to a personal conversion but to personal social reform through face-to-face evangelism. However, the Gospel Message’s emphasis must be understood as “it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, “The righteous by faith will live.” Romans 1:16-17 NetBible2.

I view and understand the social gospel addresses the Gospel through those who supported and used Christian principles in their attempt to correct social problems. Many living during the 19th and 20th centuries suffered from bad nutrition, bad health systems, weak education, alcohol abuse, crime, and warfare across the world. One only has to scan historical records to know that biblical theology of sin, salvation, heaven and hell, and the Kingdom of God was somewhat ignored. Much of the same is happening here in the 21st century. Those embracing the Social Gospel were/are theologically liberal and enjoy the postmillennial view of eternity that Christ’s second coming will not occur until humanity somehow cures itself of social evil. These thinkers teach that Christians must concentrate only on the present system of evil while ignoring the second coming of Christ. Personal salvation was not and is not the issue at hand. Revival preaching and events have grown silent.

The social gospel proclaims a god without wrath while pursuing people without presenting sin and evil as spiritual darkness without judgment through a redeemer without a cross. There is less of a biblical gospel message today than there was 50 years ago. The message of the social gospel is nothing less than the improvement of social ills with the hope of salvation. People are basically seen as being good and society will somehow improve and eliminate the Gospel of God resulting in the salvation of the lost. These misguided souls seem to think “if we feed enough people, properly educate the children, dig enough wells, clean up the air and redistribute wealth God’s kingdom will be found. And, if we emphasize love, justice, brotherhood, and goodwill toward men, greed and selfishness will be overcome with their goodness.” None of this nonsense can be found in the Word of God wherein the redemption of the heart of man can only take place if lost humanity pursues the God of the Bible.

Using the Word of God to properly define the Social Gospel must view the Christ who lived in history’s darkest moment. Our Lord did not seek to change the government as He ignored the pressure of those who listened to Him to be King. We find in John 6:15 that the Jews attempted to force Jesus to follow their wishes to define Jesus’ popularity. Sadly, we may be seeing much of the same going on today.

This was not His chosen time to establish His kingdom on earth. Jesus’ ministry was not for a secular social change, but His mission was to change the hearts of people for eternity. He did not come to remove poverty but to wipe out sin, John 1:29-34, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’ I didn’t know Him, but I came baptizing with water so He might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I watched the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He rested on Him. I didn’t know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One you see the Spirit descending and resting on—He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God!” HCSB.

Jesus’ primary ministry was and continues to justify people before God, “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.” Romans 5:1-4.  Mark recorded in his narrative that human poverty will remain with us, “Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a noble thing for Me. You always have the poor with you, and you can do what is good for them whenever you want, but you do not always have Me. She has done what she could; she has anointed My body in advance for burial. I assure you: Wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:6-9. Jesus did not come to earth to be a political or social reformer, but He taught the primacy and power of faith in God, the need to be born again, and commitment toward God. His Message challenges and changes the human heart of mankind through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, He alone changes society.

The social gospel is more concerned about circumstances here on earth with little emphasis on the darkness and sin of the human heart. However, we must not ignore the Gospel does not bypass physical human needs but is mostly concerned about the condition of the souls of men and their eternal destiny. I have observed the drilling of wells in mountainous regions helping to improve the life of many villages.  This is good and right and must be commended. However, if the darkness never hears of the water that Jesus tells us about, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well “Sir,” the woman said to Him, “give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and come here to draw water.” John 4:13-14. Lost people will go to Hell. 

No, I am NOT a Follower of Jesus Christ because I am a Southern Baptist. I became a Southern Baptist by choice because the doctrine I hold is the same as reflected by the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and found in Holy Writ. I am a Christian, a Follower of the Christ because of the grip of His grace on my heart and life, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10. Yes, I am a Christian follower of Jesus Christ and a Southern Baptist, yet.

Jesus is Lord.

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What IS the Church of Jesus Christ?

Here is a rather familiar question(s) and the only way to give an answer is to look to the One Who is the Author and Finisher of our faith, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NET2. We must keep our eyes fixed, our attention fixed, and our thoughts fixed upon Him alone.

The question(s) like so: “Does the Bible tell humanity to run churches like a business? Did God tell humanity to run churches like a business, or is that what people have decided to do?” No, the Bible never speaks of the Church as being business and what we find today are the church members using models from the world of business to give direction for the money collected from the members for ministries within the local church. The only thought I have is that among the 12 disciples of Jesus there was a ‘treasurer’ given the charge to use wisely the money of their small group.

Jesus, had this to say, “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But you,” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah, And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:13-19. Jesus simply tells Peter, “I will build my church.” We know simply that the Church is the Body of Christ belonging to Him.

The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord, “For whenever someone says, “I’m with Paul,” and another, “I’m with Apollos,” are you not unspiritual people? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now the one planting and the one watering are one in purpose, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor, for we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building. According to God’s grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it. For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:4-11. We are His field, His building and we are to nurture this Body of Faith as we do our physical body.

No, the Church, the Body of Christ is not to function as a business. However, we must consider many things that did not exist in the first century when the Church was established. There were no buildings, therefore, no fiscal expenses such as utilities and staff salaries. Many churches today have very large campuses and large staffs, and ministries have expanded because of this. Our missionary enterprises circle the globe as a result, and I could expand these items. The reality is simple, too. The Church has changed vastly and will continue and the question of fiscality will continue to change, too. 

The Bible does not address your question because the things I have shared did not exist at the time the biblical texts were being written. We are not a business competing for a place in the corporate world, but we exist to share the Gospel Message around the world. This calls for folks with a business mind to help administer these efforts. But, we have this one message from our Lord, “So the 11 disciples went to Galilee to the mountain Jesus had designated. When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20.

Jesus remains Lord.

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God’s Word is Alive and Active NOW

Many have problems with the prophetic words of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel because of the harsh judgments pronounced upon Israel, God’s Chosen People. From those problems arise many questions and the most obvious might be, “Do these prophetic words have any purpose for us today?

”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. The Word was with God in the beginning. All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.” John 1:1-5 NET2.

God’s Word is alive and active NOW and is more than capable to direct you in your daily life.  “But evil people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived themselves. You, however, must continue in the things you have learned and are confident about. You know who taught you and how from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:13-17.

For most of my life, I have heard all sorts of people question the veracity of God’s Word without blinking an eye, without thought, and without considering the sin of their actions. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart. And no creature is hidden from God, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.” Hebrews 4:12-13.

With this said, there is no doubt in my mind concerning the applications we are able to make from the Old Testament statements of prophecy for our day and time. Yes, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel, and all the prophets of old have something for us NOW; we had best give our attention to them. Some have said something like this, “Harsh words will drive people away from the Good News and this is the reason we must not use offensive words.” This may or may not be true, but whether we like it or not the Word of God is sharper than any sword known to us and is able to separate evil from good exposing sin and convicting every lost person of personal sin, His righteousness, and judgment.

“So I will choose severe punishment for them; I will bring on them what they dread because I called, and no one responded. I spoke and they did not listen. They did evil before me; they chose to do what displeases me.” Listen to the Lord’s message, you who respect his word! “Your countrymen, who hate you and exclude you, supposedly for the sake of my name, say, ‘May the Lord be glorified, then we will witness your joy.’ But they will be put to shame. The sound of battle comes from the city; the sound comes from the temple! It is the sound of the Lord paying back his enemies.” Isaiah 66:4-6. God’s judgment is sure and swift, perhaps not today, but His judgment is coming. 

Jesus is Lord

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There IS an Eternal Decision

“The Lord is righteous in all His ways and gracious in all His acts. The Lord is near all who call out to Him, all who call out to Him with integrity. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry for help and saves them. The Lord guards all those who love Him, but He destroys all the wicked. My mouth will declare Yahweh’s praise; let every living thing praise His holy name forever and ever.” Psalm 145:17-21 HCSB.

I must admit the ignorance of my understanding concerning the God of this universe. My knowledge of this magnificent and timeless Being is limited to the brief 74 years my life has spanned on this earth He created. How can anyone claim understanding of God who formed everyone in their mother’s womb and named them as well? The answer is simple; we cannot know Him beyond the knowledge He provides in His written and Holy Spirit-inspired Text. “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and gracious in all His acts.” What we do know is the result of His righteousness and grace extended to everyone who believes and trusts in Him, “But God, being rich in mercy because of His great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved! — and he raised us up together with him and seated us together with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works so that no one can boast. For we are his creative work, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we can do them.” Ephesians 2:4-10 NET2. 

Everything I know of Him is based upon two things, and the second comes directly from the first, “faith and experience.” The faith I have in Him is His gift extended to me before I was born and then received before I expressed it. But here is where life for everyone can become difficult. Everyone who breathes will come to a crossroads, a dividing place in life; a time of decision. Christ will reveal Himself in the Person of the Holy Spirit “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” John 16:8-11 NASB. At this moment and at that place everyone will make a decision to know Him as Savior and Lord or to deny Him. This is an eternal decision.

What have you done, what will you do? Jesus said this to a man named Nicodemus, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;  so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:14-18 NASB.

Jesus is Lord

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Living in the Shadow of God

Some attribute the 91st Psalm to Moses, although he most likely did not actually write the manuscript himself. This really has no meaning except to point to the fact that the mss of the Word of God is inspired by Him, is infallible, inerrant, and is the authority of all Believers’ life experiences. In this 91st Psalm are found the treasures of life, the expectancy of the days given us by the Creator. God tells us, “I will satisfy him with a long life and show him My salvation.” Psalm 91:16 HCSB.

God removed the guilt of our sins by His grace through our faith in Jesus Christ, the One who died on the cross. It is on the basis of Jesus’ righteousness that God accepts our response of faith. This acceptance is also referred to as justification. However, the consequences of sin still follow us to our graves, physical death completing our lives on this earth. Nevertheless, God extends His mercy to humanity allowing us to live as long as our appointed days. His grace enables us to enjoy life incorporating a profitable contribution to society.

One of life’s most difficult encounters is death coming as the result of so many physical calamities and at difficult moments in time. The difficulty lies in this statement found in Psalm 91:1, “The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.” We are in the shadow of His protection, but no one is free from the intrusion of illness and tragedy coming in many forms. God allows us to die from many causes and at the time without expectation. “How is this possible?” The most plausible answer we know and are able to give is, “we live in a fallen world.”

God has allowed Satan with limited power over us humans, “Skin for skin!” Satan answered the Lord. “A man will give up everything he owns in exchange for his life. But stretch out Your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse You to Your face.” “Very well,” the Lord told Satan, “he is in your power; only spare his life.” Job 2:4-6. Earlier Job was limited to the possessions and families of Job, but now Job has come again seeking to destroy Job by attacking his physical being. Seemingly God relents and allows Satan authority to attack and infect this human who has committed to following God. But, does this answer the question we have concerning God’s continuing protection for those who are following His Son, Jesus Christ? I think so.

Not long ago, my wife of 50+ years ended her time on earth following a 9-year conflict with cancer. I will attest to the fact of her enduring love and commitment to our Lord. She never one time objected to the fight she was engaged in. I am reminded her battle was not with Satan, but with the disease he was allowed to infect her body. Her faith in Jesus Christ never one time faltered. I am convinced of God’s indwelling presence in her life until she took her final breath. Now I know for certain that Satan holds the power of physical death, but eternal death and life are spiritual matters held by God himself.

What we do know is this, “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:5-11. The pain we suffer in this life will cause everyone to make a final choice before meeting the Lord face to face. There is no doubt He wants us to determine one last time for Whom we stand, “Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today. For we have become companions of the Messiah if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start. As it is said: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”Hebrews 3:12-15.

Jesus remains Lord.

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The Way We Are

And “How is that?” The Bible emphasizes more than I can repeat the role in Christ’s Church each individual Believer is called to accomplish. Every generation of Christ-followers has faced enormous social and theological challenges. Throughout her history, the Church’s spiritual leaders and theologians have led countless souls through the most significant moments of local and international struggles. Here we are, here I am in the year of our Lord July 11, 2022, at precisely 1:32 AM in Arlington, Texas, USA with no better answers than Martin Luther or John Calvin had. The same struggles existed for them that I have now; attempting to discover “the purpose God has for mankind.” Are you and I really any closer to the discovery of that quest than they? Most likely John Bradford at Plymouth asked the same questions, too. 

Here I am being enlightened with all sorts of electronic gadgetry aided by contraptions that can literally place these words I believe God has given me into time and space occupied by billions and billions of words of countless other individuals, too. Each of us must be reminded by the Word of God that these words and thoughts are truly meaningless in the presence of the Almighty who has said, “Indeed, my plans are not like your plans, and my deeds are not like your deeds,” says the Lord,  “for just as the sky is higher than the earth, so my deeds are superior to your deeds and my plans superior to your plans.” Isaiah 55:8-9 HCSB. Does this mean my thoughts at this moment are completely meaningless? That, I do not know, but perhaps in the greater schemes of God’s plans for you and His plans for me, “No.”

However, if the church is to flourish now there must be spiritual leaders who are able to discern God’s truth and lead with His integrity and wisdom. These men who accomplish this will be empowered by the Holy Spirit, and will be well-trained for interpreting and applying the inerrant and infallible Word of God. They must also be equipped to mine the depths of His wisdom in the great traditions of times past in order to bring the lessons of those traditions past to bear upon the challenges of now and for the coming challenges of tomorrow. These challenges of now are really not new nor more formidable than those of yesteryear or yesterday for God has already seen each one for He is responsible for each one. For The infinite Being with infinite wisdom, God knows and understands things we cannot possibly comprehend. We must be wise to bow to His knowledge and not attempt to demand that He do things we demand of Him.

My continual prayer and hope does not rest upon the shoulders of any expectation of those who have gone before me, but my prayers and hope rest fully upon the Words of God. The same infinite Words given by the same God telling us all, “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Are each of my words inspired by the same God? “Yes” and “No,” because He has called me to this task of proclaiming His truth. The “no” part of this is simple, these words I present here are not and will never be equal to the inspired words of His infinite and inspired text. Do these words here equal those of a Martin Luther or John Calvin? I think so for their task is the same as the one I hold to and that task to complete what the Risen Christ gave to His disciples, “Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20.

One last thought, I will not presume by any stretch these words coming from my heart will persevere through the ages as have the words Martin Luther or John Calvin. However, my desire is the same, to affect as many as I am possibly able with the same Gospel of the same Christ, “Remember your leaders, who spoke God’s message to you; reflect on the outcome of their lives and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! Do not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings. For it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not ritual meals, which have never benefited those who participated in them.” Hebrews 13:7-9.

Jesus is Lord.

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Listening to God in Faith

“Now we do speak wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are perishing. Instead, we speak the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, that God determined before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.” God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:6-11 HCSB.

Sometimes I observe my life from the hilltop where the view of the past is mostly not obscured because God has placed me here. It is here the faith God has given me is more pronounced as I see through the lens of His wisdom and insight. Until this very moment in time, I am able to clearly understand the events of the past have been planned and activated by His eternal power and grace. “Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment. Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord — for we live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 4:5-7. I am not here, you are not here by chance, but by His design.  We are here because of the expressions of our faith in Him alone.

Sometimes it is challenging to move forward in life and it may be easier to simply move on. This is a relatively new thought for me, at least consciously so. To move on is nothing more than going and existing from one day or moment in time to another. However, to move forward is a conscious mental and spiritual exercise requiring endurance from the Father. “For you need endurance in order to do God’s will and so receive what is promised. For just a little longer and he who is coming will arrive and not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, I take no pleasure in him. But we are not among those who shrink back and thus perish, but are

 among those who have faith and preserve their souls.  Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. For by it the people of old received God’s commendation. By faith, we understand that the worlds were set in order at God’s command so that the visible has its origin in the invisible.” Hebrews 10:36-11:3. In order to move forward, we must do so by listening to His voice and responding by faith.

Jesus is Lord

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Trusting God is To Be Happy

“Better a day in Your courts than a thousand anywhere else. I would rather be at the door of the house of my God than to live in the tents of wicked people. For the Lord God is a sun and shield. The Lord gives grace and glory; He does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity. Happy is the person who trusts in You, Lord of Hosts!” Psalm 84:10-12 HCSB.

Being happy in this life can only be achieved through the righteousness of 

God’s grace. Understood, there are countless numbers of people who do not know Creator God by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, and these will contend with this thought because their happiness is temporal and secular. The happiness found in Christ is eternal. There IS a vast difference.

This happiness comes by His eternal gift of grace and glory AND it is not withheld from those who love him and are able to live with integrity because of the presence of His Spirit in their lives. “ Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. We who know Christ simply do not simply know Him, we are His possession, bought with a terrible price on a Roman cross of execution. The reality is that He was not executed for a crime committed, but rather He freely became a blood sacrifice for the sins of those who chose and will choose to believe and follow Him by grace through faith in Him alone. This happiness finds root in Him and nothing more.

For those who live outside of His grace do not know Him and cannot know this peace and happiness that surpasses our ability to understand, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 Philippians 4:4-7.

Jesus is Lord.

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God’s Purpose for You to Study the Word of God

 “The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2 For learning what wisdom and discipline are; for understanding insightful sayings; 3 for receiving wise instruction in righteousness, justice, and integrity; 4 for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced, knowledge and discretion to a young man — 5 a wise man will listen and increase his learning, and a discerning man will obtain guidance — 6 for understanding a proverb or a parable, the words of the wise, and their riddles. 7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Proverbs 1:1-7 HCSB.

We preachers have always encouraged our listeners to read and study God’s Word, AND most likely each of us has provided many, many reasons as to ‘the why’ of doing so. Of course, the very best reason(s) is found within the pages of Holy Writ. I suppose the very best reason is found in 2 Timothy 3:13-17, “Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

However, I also like what Solomon writes in verse 7 of the first Proverb, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Look around and anyone can immediately see the fools in our world, their foolishness, and their undisciplined lifestyles. This does not mean you and I miss out on our own craziness occasionally, but this is not our way of life because Jesus is our Supreme Guide in all that we do for He tells us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you know Me, you will also know My Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” John 14:6-7.

The purposes God has given for us to read and study are bountiful and are His way of communicating with us; apart from prayer. We must not neglect His Word, “But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works—this person will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25. Of course, there are many verses you and I can use to focus on the importance of reading, studying, and applying His written text.

Jesus is Lord.

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Decisions Follow Us

Decisions Follow Us

You and I make decisions affecting the next moment of life every day. We cannot escape decision-making and these critical moments reveal to the world around us who and Whose we are. 

The Apostle Peter reflects this. Peter was most compulsive, telling us his desire to please the Lord and the people around him. He jumped into the waves because he wanted to demonstrate his personal desire to follow Christ, but he denied the Lord three times for fear of being considered among those who were following Christ. Far too often we are quite critical of this man, but we are just as he was. Sometimes our well-meaning choices tell us who and Whose we are. Both of Peter’s choices in this example demonstrate this fisherman was committed to Jesus and belonged to Him as well. 

Solomon writes this truth, “A person will be satisfied with good from the fruit of his words, and the work of his hands will be rendered to him. The way of a fool is right in his own opinion, but the one who listens to advice is wise.” Proverbs 12:4-5 NET2. We will be content with what our reactions because most of us will ‘stand by what we have said,’ come Hell or high water.’ This is so because of our selfish pride and we cannot escape the words we speak nor the actions we take as a result. However, our opinions are what they are; free and of no expense to another, until we act upon those opinions. There is a very important note we must not overlook, “the one who listens to advice is wise.” Our counselors are important to us, especially the advice coming from those who have decades of life experiences under their belts. Be careful to whom you listen, but those who have been around for a while are able to tell us much…whether we agree or not.

Reading the stories about the lives of King Saul and King David will tell us a great deal about wisdom and following the advice of those around us. Saul proved to be a miserable fool and Samuel said to him, “Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as he does in obedience? Certainly, obedience is better than sacrifice; paying attention is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and presumption is like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the Lord’s orders, he has rejected you from being king.” Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have disobeyed what the Lord commanded and your words as well. For I was afraid of the army, and I obeyed their voice. Now please forgive my sin. Go back with me so I can worship the Lord.”1 Samuel 15:22-25. We must be attentive to the direction of God and follow His advice.

David, even though his actions proved to be fatal because of poor decisions, we know he was completely committed to following His God. Even though his sin with Bathsheba followed him for many years, David never stopped following and worshiping God. Psalm 32 most likely was written by David as wasPsalm 51. In 51:10-12 we find these words of wisdom, “Create for me a pure heart, O God. Renew a resolute spirit within me. Do not reject me. Do not take your Holy Spirit away from me. Let me again experience the joy of your deliverance. Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey.”

We must understand our righteousness is not the result of our actions. Our righteousness is the result of our love for and submission to God. We who claim to follow Christ must never stop serving and worshiping Him. Indeed, we cannot because we belong to Him, we are His possession. “ What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39.

Reading about David’s life demonstrates why he was called a man after God’s own heart, but also reveals us as being Followers of Christ who are also after God’s own heart.

Jesus is Lord.

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